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Eats for the road

Packing a lunch and snacks for a family roadtrip or picnic

While a food pouch can be an easy choice for nutrition on the go for little ones, it’s nice to be able to take a break on your road trip or family outing for a picnic. Yes, it requires a little extra time and effort, but having a relaxing moment with some good food will make it all worth it.

When packing a lunch or snacks, the first thing you will need is a cooler and ice to keep everything cold and fresh. Once you have that, the options are endless! Here are a few ideas:

Cubed melons or pineapple, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or whatever else is in season is about as simple as it gets. You can mix as a fruit salad or offer separately as finger foods, either way fruit is hydrating and refreshing on a hot day. Pre-cutting a watermelon into small triangles or a stick shape with the rind still attached saves time and gives little hands something to hold on to. Veggies like carrot sticks, broccoli, sliced peppers and cucumbers can also be fun, especially if you pack some hummus or yogurt-based dip.  You could also prepare your favorite fruits or veggies on skewers ahead of time and even put a chunk of cheese on there.

Speaking of cheese, you can’t go wrong with throwing a handful of cheese sticks in the cooler. They can be offered with whole grain crackers as a snack or use them to make travel-friendly pizza roll ups – an idea I got from drink-milk.com. Simply cut whole grain wraps in half or use small tortillas, spread with a tablespoon of pizza sauce (leave some space on the edges so it doesn’t ooze out), add a layer of turkey pepperoni, top with a cheese stick down the center and roll it up.

Another fun roll up is a take on the ol’ pb & j, but instead of jelly, you use fruit. You could also swap out the peanut butter for almond butter, any other nut butter or sunbutter. Try these combinations – strawberries, almond butter and cream cheese OR apple, peanut butter and a slice of sharp cheddar. If you want to stick to the usual meat, lettuce and cheese wrap, you could slice it into pinwheels. That way if you make a variety of wraps everyone can get a little of each, plus it just makes it more fun.

In scrolling Pinterest recently, several people suggest using tackle boxes to organize snacks for a road trip. You do this by filling each compartment with your child’s favorite crackers, cereal, dried fruit, nuts, pretzels, pumpkin seeds, granola bars and more. Other easily pack-able ideas are mini muffins, granola or trail mix, popcorn, jerky, and GoGurts ( you can freeze ahead of time.)

Desserts made in individual little mason jars are more travel-friendly than packing an entire cheesecake, and the mini portion sizes are nice. For chocolate cream pie, layer chocolate cookie crumbs in the bottom, then chocolate pudding and top with whipped cream. The aforementioned cheesecake can be achieved by putting crushed graham crackers in the bottom, then using ricotta or Greek Yogurt (plain or vanilla is good) and topping with fruit. For banana cream pie, layer bananas, pudding or yogurt and vanilla wafers. The possibilities are endless!

I have a couple of salad ideas that would be great to pack for your summer adventures.

Creamy Broccoli Cranberry Salad

8 oz. fresh broccoli

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup dry cranberries

1/2 oz. sunflower seeds

1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt

1 oz. white distilled vinegar

1 tsp. granulated sugar

3 Tbsp + 1 tsp low-fat mayonnaise

1 Tbsp + 2 tsp skim milk

INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Combine broccoli, onion, cranberries and sunflower seeds. 2. Combine yogurt, vinegar, sugar, mayonnaise and milk. Blend until all ingredients are smooth. 3. Add dressing to broccoli mixture. Toss well until the salad is well coated. From DairyGood.org

Crunchy Grape Salad (can double as dessert)

3 cups green grapes (cut in half if worried about choking hazard)

3 cups red grapes (cut in half if worried about choking hazard)

4 oz. cream cheese softened

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cups chopped pecans

INSTRUCTIONS: Using mixer blend cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Fold in grapes and sprinkle with brown sugar, walnuts and pecans.

And if you are having a stay-cation in your own backyard, how about making some frozen pops or ice cream bars for the kids.

Peanut Butter Banana Frozen Yogurt Pop

1 Cup Greek Yogurt

1 Cup light cream (optional if you want a lighter pop, but this keeps it from freezing up too solid and gives it a creamier consistency)

1/2 Cup creamy peanut butter

3 large bananas (cut into pieces)

2 Tbsp. honey

1/2 Cup mini chocolate chips

2 tsp. vanilla

Instructions: Using a hand mixer, blend until ingredients are smooth, and then pour into ice cube trays. This recipe filled two standard ice cube trays. Put in the freezer for 1-2 hours and then take out to insert craft sticks or whatever you choose for a pop  stick. Return to the freezer. You might need to run hot water over the bottom of the tray to get them to break up easily when you are ready to serve.

 

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